What is Good Friday?

Chris Armstrong at Christianity Today did such a beautiful job explaining Good Friday that we post an edited version here, and encourage you to follow the citation link below to read it in full.

The Goodness of Good Friday

Diego Velazquez_Christ CrucifiedWhat a supreme paradox. We now call the day Jesus was crucified, Good.

Many believe this name simply evolved—as language does. They point to the earlier designation, “God’s Friday,” as its root. (This seems a reasonable conjecture, given that “goodbye” evolved from “God be with you.”)

Whatever its origin, the current name of this holy day offers a fitting lesson to those of us who assume (as is easy to do) that “good” must mean “happy.” We find it hard to imagine a day marked by sadness as a good day…

Many Christians have historically kept their churches unlit or draped in dark cloths. Processions of penitents have walked in black robes or carried black-robed statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary. And worshippers have walked the “Stations of the Cross,” praying and singing their way past 14 images representing Jesus’ steps along the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha.

Yet, despite—indeed because of—its sadness, Good Friday is truly good. Its sorrow is a godly sorrow. It is like the sadness of the Corinthians who wept over the sharp letter from their dear teacher, Paul, convicted of the sin in their midst. Hearing of their distress, Paul said, “My joy was greater than ever.” Why? Because such godly sorrow “brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10)…

This commemoration of Christ’s death reminds us of the human sin that caused this death. And we see again that salvation comes only through godly sorrow—both God’s and, in repentance, ours. To pursue happiness, we must first experience sorrow. He who goes forth sowing tears returns in joy.

At the same time, of course, Good Friday recalls for us the greatness and wonder of God’s love—that He should submit to death for us.

No wonder, in parts of Europe, the day is called not “Good,” but “Great” or “Holy” Friday.

Today, Christian liturgies reflect the gravity of Christ’s act. Services linger on the details of Christ’s death and the extent of His sacrifice…

Good Friday has always challenged merely human goodness. Its sad commemoration reminds us that in the face of sin, our goodness avails nothing. Only One is good enough to save us. That He did so is cause indeed for celebration.

Armstrong, Chris. “The Goodness of Good Friday.” ChristianHistory.net. Christianity Today, 8 Aug 2008. Web. 14 April 2014.
Velazquez, Diego. “Christo Crucificado.” Oil on canvas, 1632. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 14 April 2014.